What are the best agile practices to follow as Business Analysts or Product Owners? • Xeynergy

What are the best agile practices to follow as Business Analysts or Product Owners?

When we think of writing about some best practices to follow, according to me the most effective way of bringing that into words would be based on our experiences. So I thought of writing this articles based on the experience I have gained working as Business Analyst/Product Owner. 

In the early stage of course based on the narrow knowledge I had on Agile I was not very keen on practicing it until I got the real taste of it. Agile practices and business analysis actually go hand in hand and deliver remarkable values to company when they leverage efficiently and effectively. 

I am not going to explain why we need business analysts in agile because that’s not what this article is about. Now let’s start looking at what we can do to make the entire process efficient and effective to all team members by using agile principles. 

I hope you all are familiar with the term Agile and we can easily put it as “building a software incrementally, instead of trying to deliver it all at once near the end”. That’s simply what Agile means. 

Scrum is one of the subsets of the agile methodology and the most widely used framework process in agile development. (A “process framework” is a particular set of practices that must be followed in order for a process to be consistent with the framework. (For example, the Scrum process framework requires the use of development cycles called Sprints) 

Listed below are the good practices which you can do as a Business Analyst or as a Product Owner to improve the entire business process using Agile 

1. Plan your Sprint at least one week in advance 

Trust me this helps a lot. As a business analyst or a product owner you have to own the backlog or you have to take the ownership of maintaining the backlog. You can definitely work closely with the scrum master (Scrum master is the facilitator in the scrum or the agile development) to plan the sprint ahead. Don’t wait till the last moment to plan the sprint. Make sure you have enough user stories prepared (groomed) to the sprint so that you can get the full Velocity out of the development team. It’s not a good practice to take user stories in the middle of the sprint. 

2. User Story Review Board (USRB) 

Have a requirement walk-through session (User Story Review Session) with the development and QA teams prior to the backlog grooming session. (Backlog grooming session is the place where we can get estimates to the user stories). This is also a very important practice to follow and I personally do this with my teams all the time. Goal is to have a requirement walk-through with the team (Dev/QA) and get their inputs. In this way we can reduce the ambiguity and the concerns technical team is having which can be a great help when it comes to the backlog grooming sessions. Remember as BAs/POs you have to have an open mind as well as you should be ready to justify your requirements or your solutions to the team. If the team feels that you are not confident with your requirement or solution then they are not going to listen to you. Don’t forget to take notes and document all the inputs and suggestions so that you won’t forget that after the meeting. 

3. Plan the backlog grooming session very well 

Now for this you have to be prepared! 😎 

Typically this is the place where the BAs get so many questions. That’s why I told you to have a requirement walk-through session (USRB) before the grooming and so that we can get fewer questions from the technical teams at the grooming session which will help you to save your time and have a productive grooming session. Before the session make sure you send the user stories to the teams or update in your agile tool (I use JIRA) so that technical teams are aware of what is going to get discussed. 

You can get help from the scrum master to track the efforts at user story levels and make sure to update the story points then and there. One of the biggest mistakes that most of the BAs/POs are doing which you should avoid in my personal opinion is to ‘Challenge the effort’ of user stories. This can cause several issues and damaging the trust between you and the team is the biggest impact. Always trust your team and they will trust you back and I am telling this using my personal experience. 

4. Have small scrum teams 

It’s a main part of the agile scrum process that we do have a daily update meetings as in ‘Daily Stand-ups’ with the team. I highly recommend not having larger teams as your scrum teams. Talk with your scrum master and have a small team (maximum 6 members). Daily stand up meetings are supposed to be maximum of 7–8 min of your time. But what happens if you have a larger group like 15- 20. Then it will take more than 15 minutes to have the meeting and trust me you don’t want that. So make it simple. Have a small team and just give the update as “What I did yesterday and what I’m planning for today and any blockers for my work. That’s it Easy peasy lemon squeezy 😁 

5. Don’t forget about “Sprint Review” session 

After every sprint there has to be a sprint review session where the team members are demonstrating what they did during the last sprint. Trust me this is very important as BAs/POs because this is the place where developers showcase the user stories they implemented and if you have any concerns on how the requirement has implemented raise your hand and point it out. It could be a simple question you have or it could be something developer has improvised. Then and there ask the questions and sort it out and appreciate their work. 

6. Finally the Retrospective 

This is the place where the team members can voice their concerns or suggestion to be heard. Once in every 3 sprint (there is no hard and fast rule for that) you can have a session and discuss What went right, What went wrong and What are the improvements to be made for the scrum. 

I hope you find this article as productive. So basically these are the best practices which I can point out when it comes to the practical world.